Thursday, October 25, 2007

If you can't talk about the weather, you should just leave immediately

I had the most awkward date the other night. The only successful conversation we had? Was about sharks, alligators, and Komodo dragons. I kid you not.

And the thing is, it's rare that I'm faced with someone I just can't talk to. We moved a ton growing up, and I was always walking into new situations and introducing myself. I was raised going to all kinds of embassy receptions. I like meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Usually you can find common ground. And until you do, there are still tons of random little things to talk about. There just are.

But I swear we couldn't keep a topic going. It was not what I'd expected at all. He's cute and he'd seemed funny before. But so not funny on this date. Painfully not funny. And we couldn't exchange more than three sentences in a row.

Not even about the weather. Everyone can talk about weather, can't they?

It doesn't have to be an in-depth conversation. I don't have much to say about the weather. But if you start by agreeing on something completely prosaic, it makes it a little easier. Yes, it's hot. Crazy weather we're having. New topic. But at least you've begun somewhere.

I arrived in a rush, and super hot, because the clothing of the season do not match the weather we are having. And so, while I had no intention of talking about the weather, I was like oh, it's so warm and crazy for October and what about global warming?

He just read something that made him not so sure about global warming. And the weather is not actually that unusual. You really have to look at longer increments of time.

Huh. Well, whether you believe in global warming or not, for me personally it's really hard to figure out what to wear to work so that you can look like fall but not sweat to death. Because it's shockingly warm.

According to him, I should just wear summer clothing. I said I can't without looking ridiculous. He disagreed. Why would you flat out disagree? So, fine. Whatever.

This is where it all began. Not to self: If you can't talk about the fucking weather, you can't talk about anything.

Seriously. Art? Nope, no common ground. And he made it so difficult. Like he was expecting me to disagree with him from the outset. And when I did, it just confirmed his expectations.


He tried sports. World Series! He loves the Red Sox. Do I like the Red Sox? Well, truthfully, I'm pretty sports oblivious. I went to a Nationals game recently, though. Does this count? No, not for him. OK, then.

So he pointed out that I went to Carolina! I should at least follow Carolina sports! I don't. Could I name one current Carolina sports figure? No. How about a former one? I said Rick Fox.

How ridiculous! Why on earth would I pick Rick Fox? Um, because he's hot? So Rick Fox was a recurring item. Every time there was a lull in conversation, which is to say every, oh, three minutes, he brought up my choice of Rick Fox. This was too good for him to let drop. Hot, according to him, was no reason to pick someone.

Fine. Whatever.

Hobbies? Another entirely unsuccessful line of conversation. He asked about hobbies, so I started telling him about the textile stuff, about which I'm obviously really passionate. To which he said, "So basically, you tie die."

Here's the thing. He wasn't a dick. He was just really awkward. I knew he was trying to be funny, but it wasn't working. And so I laughed politely and then did a bit of sincere explanation. Because I was desperate to talk about something. And this I could talk about.

So he interrupted to say, "So do you ever dye anything just all black?"

I just looked at him in confusion. I didn't know what to say.

And so he said, "You know I'm just kidding with you, right?"

I said, "I do, and I'd love to run with it, but I simply don't know how to respond. Where would you like me to go with this?"

No suggestion.

Finally I said, "I just don't think we have anything in common."

He disagreed! I decided not to press him for examples. I didn't need to be right. I was beyond looking for commonality. I just wanted the bill to arrive so we could leave.

I asked, "You would, however, agree that conversation has been awkward?"

He did agree that conversation had been difficult. I believe this was our first agreement.

"Actually," he then said, "when a friend has a hard time with conversation, he has three questions he usually asks. One of them is how many five-year-old kids you think could take you out."

This made me giggle. I said three.

He said, "You could handle more than three five-year-olds!"

"I doubt it. They bite. And seriously, I'm not that big."

Finally, accidentally, I think because of the bitey five-year -olds, I mentioned sharks. It turns out we both have a fear of deep water, even if it's a lake, because of sharks. Jaws, actually. Even though we know it's irrational.

The only time that our conversation was actually easy in the hour and a fucking half it took us to finish dinner was when we were talking about reptiles, which of course were the natural progression from sharks. Because, according to him, to get away from a shark you punch it in the nose. Which is, apparently not that different from an alligator, except you have to get to the side of them and hold their jaw shut.

Which led me to tell him one of my favorite facts about Komodo dragons. They have these serrated teeth that hold a lot of bacteria. And so if you don't bleed to death from the bite you'll most likely die from infection. I don't know why I think this fact is so cool. Probably because I'm a nerd.

So, he asked, did I think an alligator and a Komodo dragon would be evenly matched in a fight?

Honestly. Just thinking about it makes me tired.


  1. Komodo Dragon would win.

    Actually, I have no idea, but I just like the name. PS I totally used conversations about animals (with a five year old) to impress a girl. Manipulating kids for personal gain. Ugh. I'm that guy.

  2. 1. You should check out "You Just Don't Understand" by Barbara Tannen. She's a psychologist who studies the differences in which men and women communicate. I think you'll find it enlightening.

    2. If the guy was such an awkward conversationalist, then how did he convince you to go out with him in the first place? Was the initial conversation okay, or were you just drunk and you thought he was charming (and so was his twin brother who was wearing the same outfit and showed up after the 5th tequila shot)?

    3. In the 5 year old scenario, are they swarming you or attacking one at a time? And do you have to fight fair, or you allowed to fight dirty too? (I think I could hold off about 20 of them...I would pick one and swing him around me defensively like a bolo, until I got tired and threw him in order to try to clear a path and run for it).

  3. TBB - I think you're right. As for using children for personal gain, all fine with me. I'm just waiting for my nephew to get a little older and more dexterous so I can teach him to sew stuff for me.

    HIN - I so regret not taking Tannen's class in grad school, actually. And it's true, I ought to read the book. But seriously, this guy was ridiculously hard to talk to. And it might've been his twin when I was drunk. And finally, I believe the 5yos are swarming. One at a time would be easy.

  4. The Komodo dragon would take the gator... I think. But it would be close.

    I'm not sure I could take that many five year olds... I have a weakness that they're likely to find and exploit. It would be fun though.

  5. i love how ballsy you are.
    "I just don't think we have anything in common."

    In a word? AWESOME.

  6. i think the komodo dragon would totally win. and you never know, the really awkward first dates are often the stories those couples are telling their kids later.

    "He was such a bore, you have no idea. He tried romancing me with reptiles."

    "Well, it worked. Eventually."

  7. 1. Rick Fox is a tool, because he was a Traitor to the Celtics.

    2. Enjoying a group lunch after rafting the Nile in Uganda a couple months ago, some Irishman decided it'd be a good idea to feed the Komodo dragons with his bare hands (rather than just tossing the loose meat.) Well, shock of shocks, the asshat recoiled in terror, frantically gripping the stump of what was once a finger.

    Your post makes me wonder:

    Why couldn't it have been Rick Fox?

  8. I am so glad I'm not the only one afraid of sharks in lakes (and there is at least one in lake in the world with sharks in Nicaragua so it's not even an irrational fear!).

  9. Yikes, sorry about the date. Maybe he was nervous? I'm really quiet and shy at first then turn into a chatter box.

    Michael Jordan is probably the most famous UNC alumni/athlete, this choice could spark conversation.

  10. i would've invoked superman at some point to steer the conversation away from reptiles. and i'm nerd enough to really really enjoy the komodo dragon fact.

    i can't blame him for being nervous. i'd be if i were dating you :)

  11. Is Rick Fox the guy that was married to Vanessa Williams? That's about as much as I know about him, if that's even who we are talking about.

    I had one of those dates, only my guy was a dick. Still, dick or no dick, that just ain't good!

  12. Am I the only person who's voting alligator? Komodo's aren't very big, and their teeth are relatively small; I'm not sure they'd get through the 'gators skin before they get death-rolled.

    re: the 5-year-olds - for some reason, this question makes me think of Kindergarten Cop. Kids dangling from every limb...

    Did you even get to the other two questions?

  13. VVK - The Komodo dragon! I think so! And no, you'd just sit down and play with the 5 year olds.

    SD - Once you get to be as old as me you're going to be saying these things too. I betcha.

    moosie - I could be romanced with reptiles, but not by this guy. I'm never going out with him again, much less getting naked and procreating with the fellow.

    Justin - Yikes! Did he die of infection? Is that part true?

    MI - I'm so glad to hear that! I get super panicky!

    HKW - I have no idea if he was nervous or not. Michael Jordan! You are right!

    jess - Oh, Superman! I'll bear him in mind next time. And thank you :). I'll ask the next one if it makes him nervous to go out with me, just to put him at ease. Ha!

    FK - Yes, that's exactly who he is. I know, dick or no dick, not good.

    WiB - They'd have to be evenly matched size-wise. I think I forgot to mention that. But you make a good point about the death roll. He could only remember one other question but I've forgotten it.

  14. This reminds me of the first chapter of the new book I'm reading, "Me and Mr. Darcy". It's by Alexandra Potter. You should read it, it will suck you in.

  15. Vanessa Williams lives in my town, goes to my Church. She was married to Rick Fox. I don't know if I ever saw him in Church, but we saw him around from time to time.

    He's fairly hunky, sure, but uses too much product.


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